Any hopes that the nation’s first black president could uplift the nation’s black underclass went up in smoke Sunday when Barack Obama doubled down on his blaming of America’s police for the recent cop massacres that amount, as Heather Mac Donald rightly says, to a war on cops.
I argued two decades ago in The Dream and the Nightmare that changes in elite culture during the 1960s had a catastrophic effect on the most disadvantaged Americans in ghetto neighborhoods. That decade’s sexual revolution removed the stigma from out-of-wedlock pregnancy. An explosion of inner-city illegitimacy ensued, with between 70 and 90 percent of black children born to single mothers, depending on the city. The elite’s youthful interest in drug taking petered out, but in the ghetto, tolerance of drug taking resulted in a deadly crack cocaine epidemic.
Elite culture’s wholly praiseworthy political push for black civil rights ended in a destructive turn, with intellectuals arguing that punishing black crime, as one bestseller’s title had it, was “blaming the victim.” In other words, centuries of slavery and Jim Crow, giving way to lingering racial discrimination, made young black men justifiably angry and rebellious, and their anger, along with the barriers the larger society placed between them and gainful employment, resulted in criminal behavior that was understandable and almost justifiable. So by the early 1990s, murders in New York, for example—mostly by young black men killing other blacks—were occurring on average every four hours, every day.
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